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Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

I'm working at an engineering job in the US that I moderately enjoy. There a good things and bad things about the position. I believe I'm slightly underpaid for the position and have some other issues with the company but overall I am grateful to have the job.

I have decided to begin sending my resume out, and actively apply for other jobs. My current supervisor enjoys the work I do and wants me to stay at the company for a long time. As I try to apply for other jobs, my supervisor is going to be a necessary and important reference. I have worked incredibly hard for my supervisor and I believe I should have earned a strong reference.

1) How do I approach my supervisor (who wants me to stay at this company) to let him/her know that (1) I am actively seeking other jobs, and (2) would like this person to act as my primary reference?
2) If I tell my supervisor about this, will it damage my position at the company? Will it damage my professional relationship with my supervisor?
3) Could this result in me being fired by the company?

Surely I'm not the only engineer on this board who entertains outside job offers. How do you approach this situation with your boss. The majority of positions will seek to speak with my current boss to assess my strength.


RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

Somehow it never is possible to hide the fact you are looking. Just don't use any company time for it. A face to face talk with the supervisor won't hurt anything and may improve your situation. No job is perfect and this talk may help on that score also.

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

3) Yes. It happens. They hardly ever call it 'firing', but the result is the same.

2) The result depends very strongly on the nature of your relationship with your supervisor, and just as strongly on the nature of your supervisor. We here can't know that.

1) You can ask your supervisor to be a reference. It is best to do so just before someone calls him to speak about you. If you are dealing with reputable recruiters and reputable employers, they should notify you before attempting to contact your supervisor. I would not do so right away; it may take a while to find anyone who is interested in you.

Some people think it's possible to conduct a 'stealth' job search. I tried that once; took a day off and flew to a distant city for an interview. My supervisor never knew. But my company's Chairman, with whom I had a 'dotted line' relationship, apparently found out from the other company's Chairman, and mentioned something about the trip in conversation. That company had 5000 employees all over the world, and the Chairman knew everybody, and their spouses and children's names, too. I miss him every day.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

Adding to Mikes post ,
Stealth Job applications never work, A company I was working for went onto short time, so I applied for a job with a different company. Lo and behold the two company bosses were golfing buddies. I got the job with the other company, after, being hauled into the bosses office ,and being given the " What's this about you leaving." speech.
Talk with your superviser Mention the reasons why you are unhappy , If your supervisor really wants you there ,he will go to bat for you, If not you are already on your way out anyway . This is the time to ask for a reference.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

Stealth job searches are very possible. I would say Mike and berk's experiences were unique. I have done many job search processes including flying out of town for interviews, etc. with success (5 times in the last 8 years). My employers were shocked when I gave them notice of my intent to leave, as they had no idea, and tried hard to get me to stay. That said, at my current company, I was offered a promotion and declined. I told them I could not commit to staying as it is likely I am moving to back to the East coast this summer. They appreciated my honesty and are hoping that I decide to stay (they have done a lot to entice me to stay as well). Only you know your relationships/work environment at your current company, so you do what you think is best. If you have had bad performance reviews in the past or there have been recent layoffs, I would be a little more cautious of saying anything.

I'll also add, I've also worked with several guys that told managers they were applying for other positions (some internal, some external) and there were never any hard feelings. I think most people understand that people sometimes want to try different things and go different places, and good managers are supportive of that.

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

As with MF, I have never had an issue with "stealth" interviews. Of course, I imagine it depends upon your industry, too. In mine, it's incest galore... company 'A' buys up company 'B', which took over the contract for company 'C', and let's not forget company 'D' that had employees leave to form company 'E'. As such, it's not uncommon to know half of the people at the new company you're talking to. Contracts can come and go every few months, so job-hopping is almost a way of life.

There are a lot of "ifs", but if your current boss is a decent guy, and if he truly respects you and your work, asking for a reference should not be an issue. If you don't feel you can be honest about why you're leaving, then that may say something sub-consciously about how you believe your boss views you...

Dan - Owner

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

After a former employer said XXX needed laid off but prior to names being given, I requested to be laid-off. Beyond that, I've never notified a supervisor before accepting another position much less looking for one, and usually have had my desk mostly cleaned out by that point. Some companies have polices forcing supervisors to walk you out the minute notice is given. Some supervisors feel betrayed by employees leaving. Personally I never saw any real benefit to notifying anyone of my plans and a whole lot of potential pitfalls.

JMO but if you are unsure how your supervisor will react to news that you are leaving then you are probably not close enough personally and professionally to consider them as a reference.

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

"Hey boss, I dislike working here so much that I am actively looking for another job. I know it will be a pain in the butt for you to replace me, but can you give me a referral and tell other employers how good I am? Oh, and by the way, is this cool with you? You're not bothered that you will have to go through all the trouble to find someone, train them and plug them into my old spot are you? You wouldn't consider running off a lost cause sooner than later would you?"

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

If that's the expected response, then, no, you don't know your supervisor well enough, or they don't care enough, for you to use them as references. If the latter, then you should leave anyway.

I've not had many situations where I would have been afraid to tell my management that I was leaving; there was a couple of temporary a*holes where I would have walked away at any instant; their a*holeness wasn't temporary, sadly, just my life's intersection with them was temporary. In one case, I had a retention contract, in the other I was still worth more to the company as an employee than not.

A manager is supposed to cultivate employee improvement; since when was lack of improvement a company goal? And recognize that lifetime employment/servitude ended decades ago; employee turnover is a fact of life. Of course, I'm not saying that finding these paragons of managerial virtue was easy to do...

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

I was fired recently in part to applying to another company. That company was very interested in who from my company was now part of this industry working group. I can only imagine what basically happened. I was fired shortly after my interview was scheduled. I was with that company for nearly four years and only attended one interview and talked with only one other company over the phone during my time there. Prior, to my firing I had been put on a performance improvement plan immediately after setting up an interview with a local consulting company. I would strongly suggest to not talking with your supervisor until you have an offer in hand. Even then, staying is a shakey venture. The only thing that comes from talking to your supervisor or if your supervisor finds out is that you discover very quickly if the company is a good company or a bad one. I could sort of get this if they had invested a lot into my training or progress but that wasn't at all the case.

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

HH, I wouldn't want to stay with a company that says "You can't look anywhere but here!". It's certainly not corporate behavior that should be rewarded (by staying around), and it is designed to keep a captive audience that has no bargaining power.

Being put on a PIP simply for interviewing with another company is insulting, to say the least. Your performance hasn't lessened, only their grasp on you.

Dan - Owner

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

I would go with the majority of the folks here: Dont tell and dont name your supervisor as a reference. Basically any new employer should be able to understand why. I you only have one previous job then they will just have to accept that (or nor unfortunately for you).

Best regards, Morten

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

I agree with most of the folks here and urge you not to tell and don't use a current supervisor as a reference. I've never had a company balk when I asked them not to contact my current company. I have also seen first hand what happened to others who let it be known that they were looking for a different job. It never worked out for the employees benefit.

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

I think it really depends on your relationship with your supervisor.

I had a great relationship with my previous employer. I told him well in advance that I was looking for other work - it was to both our benefit...it mean't I didn't have to hide that I was looking elsewhere, and it gave him plenty of time to plan for my departure. He eventually helped me find my next job. Mutual respect goes a long way. I realize that this scenario is the exception rather than the rule, but it can happen.

RE: Applying to other jobs - how to approach supervisor

Reach out to someone that you worked with who recently left the company, use them as a reference.

But if pay is a major factor and you do have a good relationship with your supervisor, you at least owe them the courtesy of a brief discussion. Ask about possibilities for next pay increase, keep it light, gauge their reaction, and make your reaction easy to read. Or just be blunt, "I think I should be earning $XXX and am trying to make that happen soon, one way or another." You should get one of two responses: "hold up, let me see what I can do" or "sure, good luck with that."

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